games / Columns

The 8 Ball 3.12.13: Top 8 Shocking Moments in Games

March 12, 2013 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome to another edition of The 8 Ball. I changed the topic from the poll last week from “Top 8 OMG WTF Moments” to the Top 8 Shocking Moments instead. It’s the same principle though, so it’s a bit moot. I tended to focus on newer games in my list, with overall insanity within the games. Liana focused hers on specific moments in gaming that affected her. It’s interesting because our lists are completely different for the same topic. Let’s begin:

8. Assassin’s Creed 2 — First Civilization

While most of Assassin’s Creed 1 and even Assassin’s Creed 2 plays it fairly close to the vest. The end of Assassin’s Creed 2 is where the series goes off the rails in an insanely great way. The crux of the twist is that hidden beneath the Vatican is a hologram of a previous, highly technological civilization on Earth that had been wiped out by a solar flare. Somehow people 75,000 years ago are able to communicate with you via the artifacts that also survived the disaster. The series later games get more convoluted with there being different factions in the future world and those faction characters even arguing with one another. The reveal of the prior civilization is the precise moment where Assassin’s Creed got even zanier then was initially thought.

7. Amped 3 — All of it

Really, Amped 3 is*littered* with fairly insane things going on constantly. Insane really doesn’t cover it; the game is frankly bat-shit crazy non-stop. The actual game part, the snow-boarding, sledding, tricking all work normally, and aside from a few goofy objectives, it’s mostly normal. The cinematics/mission objectives are the crazy stuff. It ranges from; 8-bit style parodies of games, Robot Chicken-esuqe scenes with action figures, anime scenes, fmv’s that look like from South Park, a Sifl and Olly parody, paper-mache skits, and insane sequence with a pig head that is carted around on a mechanical scooter thing. Few games even dare to approach this game’s insanity, and frankly that is a shame these days.

6. Starcraft 1 — Kerrigan’s Betrayal

It may look a bit of an old relic, but damn if it wasn’t at the height of graphics and story-telling 15 years ago. This was the big event in the first game, the catalyst which set the stage for Brood War, SC2, and the upcoming Heart of the Swarm. It’s really Mengsk just being a complete dick that ends up biting him in the ass later on. It was surprising, at the time, just because it kind of came out of nowhere. It kind of came out of nowhere, given how the previous missions setup Mengsk as fairly benevloant, and Kerrigan as the true believer in his goals. Blizzard did a good job with Kerrigan’s arc though, and I’m curious to see how it changes in a few days.

5. KOTOR 1 — The big reveal

Upon reflection, it’s fairly obvious that your character is in-fact Darth Revan. There were clues in the game, like HK-47 being subservient to you, your skill with the force, and so on. Even if it was telegraphed early on, the big reveal that you actually are Revan was still surprising. This lead to a cool scenem where Bastila turned evil and tried to sway you to her and Malak’s side not. You could side with her but still take on Malak and beat him. Or rehab her and turn her back good again. While the revelation does make sense, it was still an effective turn of events.

4. Deadly Premonition — Zack/York

While Amped 3’s insanity was largely around the periphery of the game, Deadly Premonition has it integral to the plot. The sheer lunacy about which everything happens in the town, be it the “Arnold and Sylvester” (the names of two barbells the sheriff uses), to the way Michael Tilloton rhymes constantly, to how Gina dresses for her job. The “what is going on here?” moment occurs at the end of the game where you find out the character you’ve been playing with/getting to know through the entire game, doesn’t actually exist. The person he’s been narrating to the entire game is the real person. It’s completely absurd, but in a great way.

3. Resident Evil: Code Veronica — Alfred/Alexia

A lot of Resident Evil is kind of inherently goofy. Not in a bad way, just in kind of a B-movie horror kind of way. Least of all the zombie sharks in Resident Evil that flop around out of water. Code Veronica went down the weird path though with the main villain. Having Alfred as the villain was fine, even if he was over the top in his acting. The same goes for Alexia when she pops up later in the game, as well. It’s the cut-scene when you realize that Alexia IS Alfred then the game has a really weird turn. From a psychological stand-point, it’s probably the darkest Resident Evil actually went. It also had some of the worst voice acting imaginable with Steve Burnside.

2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 — No Russian End

I never thought the controversy with the “No Russian” mission was that big a deal. Sure you kill tens (if not hundreds) of civilians, but you already do that in most other war games, anyway. While the previous Modern Warfare game had a few shocking deaths (the Nuke for one, it felt impersonal, because you were just caught up in it with bad luck. When “No Russian” ends, and it’s revealed that Makarov not only knew you were an American soldier, but planned for America to get the blame for the massacre, it’s a huge surprise to the player. Often times, villains are portrayed as evil but also a bit dumb. Not with Makarov, he had a plan and actually carried it out. Plus you didn’t even stop him at the end of the game, MW2 didn’t exactly end on a happy note. While MW3 cleared up most of the machinations of Makarov fairly well, it was still surprising that Modern Warfare 2 pulled this off so well.

1. BioShock — Atlas Shrugged

While it’s true that System Shock 2 pulls this exact trick off earlier, I didn’t play that game (until very recently). I’d actually argue that a majority of people who played BioShock didn’t play System Shock 2 which made the surprise even better. The basic details is that the person you take orders from (in both games) for about half the game, reveals themselves to be the true villain of the game once your initial objective is accomplished. Both games play on your preconceptions of what is going on, and then do an incredibly fake-out to show that you’re just a puppet for the real enemy. This occurs more in BioShock where you’re told that you were bred to be a slave due to one little phrase. This twist is still wonderfully executed, even if it did occur 8 years prior in SS2.

The Better Half


Most of the time, I’m pretty cynical about the twists of a game’s narrative. But every so often something bizarre, twisted, awesome, or just plain messed up will hit me, and I’ll have to pause for a moment to reflect on its greatest. I whittled my strongest memories down to the eight most personally wowsa moments… for better and for worse. Share yours in the comments!

8) The mid-game twist of System Shock 2 and Bioshock

While most are more aware of WYK in Bioshock than SHODAN from System Shock 2, SHODAN was first, damn it! Frank Fontaine is still a great character, and enough time and awareness passed between System Shock 2 (1999) and Bioshock (2007) to tell the joke again, but I still included the events as one entry because they’re the same damned concept in the “spiritual sequel” mode.

7) Getting killed by a Jockey in Left 4 Dead 2

This was actually a decidedly not-awesome OMG WTF moment. I was playing the Left 4 Dead 2 demo at PAX with three very inexperienced players. Halfway through the level, I was at 80% health. Then a Jockey jumped on me. And I watched myself…slowly…die…unable…to do… anything… about it… because nobody… came… to help me… And then my character never respawned and I sat out the whole demo doing nothing. That was the point I quit the Left 4 Dead series forever, because I cannot rely on the people I’m playing with to have two brain cells to rub together AND not be assholes. That kind of stupidity is what I use games to escape. If I could handle it, I’d play sports.

6) The first time that zombie that looked a bit like a clown looked over its shoulder at me in the original Resident Evil

That thing was just creepy, man. It was the Hunters that ended up giving me nightmares, but they’re demonic frogs, man. But that first zombie in the mansion, who takes time out of eating a corpse to give you that dead-eyed come-hither look… guh even a picture of it creeps me out.

5) The first time a headshot did SQUAT in Dead Space.

Ho ho! I’m a cocky gamer who’s played a lot of shooters! I’ll just line up my reticule on this space goober’s head and… Pop! … Monster is still charging at me! OMG! WTF!? Shootshootshootshootshootshoot!
Yes, the game is a complete rip off of the film Event Horizon. Yes, it’s repetitive. But I will forever cherish the experience of being forcibly weaned off of headshots. It was so humbling and awesome.

4) The Hydra Fight in God of War

Gears of War’s violence may be described as “Gallagher smashing a watermelon with a sledgehammer”. Kratos would cause that same watermelon to arterial spray an impossible amount of juice. The Hydra fight in the original God of War was just so over the top that I ended up laughing hysterically by the second smashed head. Just too good.

3) Finding the March Hare hacked up and strapped to a board in American McGee’s Alice

I’m not sure why Alice in Wonderland so easily went so goth and gruesome, but it did so very well. Thank God a movie was never made of the original McGee game, because nothing wide-release would do it justice, and we got just enough influence in the Disney live action film to do it justice. Without those jaw-dropping scenes from the game, it wouldn’t be the same, and Hollywood seems to have lost touch with the fine art of effectively horrifying people

2) The first time I saw a Mortal Kombat fatality

I remember it happened at the coin-op machine at a local convenience store. It was very sudden and bloody. Johnny Cage did a bit of a boogie next to a very dizzy Baraka, then uppercut his head right off his body. I looked around to make sure everyone had just seen the same thing I had, because OMG WTF had just happened!? The series got me again two games later when Sindel started killing people with her hair. That was just messed up.

1) All of Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem

Never have I played a game more messed up than Eternal Darkness. It’s a playable walk through a history of the horrors committed by humanity, with a healthy serving of Lovecraft thrown in. Even without the sudden and random insanity effects, it was an astounding story, and it was the first game I ever played where a playable character could die and the story continued. It’s a real shame that Nintendo had a stillborn sequel, due to Silicon Knights’ legal and financial woes. I’m not convinced it’s forever dead though, because the corpse god is still plotting. Maybe we’ll get a “spiritual sequel”… oh that was a terrible pun.

Complainer’s Corner

Everyone has different thresholds for what they consider a surprising moment, or just out and out shocking. Here are some of the games that didn’t make my particular list: Metal Gear Solid, Modern Warfare 1, Final Fantasy 7, KOTOR 2, Resident Evil 4, Dead Space, Silent Hill, and Angelica Weaver

The General Roundup

A few comments from the last column I’ll address. I never got to play Samba, or Rhythm Fever. With Fever, I don’t really have the systems, and with Samba, it’s kind of expensive now to buy the set you need. Also, Beat Hazard is cool, but I still think Audiosurf is a better game, overall.

What do you want the 8 Ball to be about next week?

Top 8 Spiritual Sequels
Top 8 Cheats in Games
Top 8 “Messed up stuff we’d like to see in the next Persona game”As suggested by Liana


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Marc Morrison
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